Until we bring awareness of the plight of these refugees, we have to find a way and not water it down and this won't be good.
Media 7: Could you please take us through your professional career?
James P Axiotis: I was 13 or 14 years old, we had a little football team in San Fernando Valley in Southern California. We were asked to be in this TV special and the parents had to sign us out. So for almost a month, we were on the set being on the show and we had our last name was on our football helmets and the director happened to be Greek and he saw my name and he said you must be Greek. I said, I am and he pulled me aside. One of the main actors in the show was Greek and they knew you wanted to use me, not just as an extra, but as an actor. Then years later, when I was 17, again I was asked if I was a Greek dancer. Again, I was on set and I'm like, I don't know what all this is. I don't know what all the producer-directors-AD, but I love the film community. I love the community of storytelling. It wasn't so much to be, I was on set as an actor, but I just enjoyed doing it. By the time I was 24, I was one of the youngest producers at NBC studios and I just kept networking, meeting people. So yes, I'm in the producers Guild, I'm on the national board, I'm in the television academy. I'm in BFI. But what I love about what's happening now is that streaming changed everything in the last seven to 10 years and made everything international and I always tried to think of shows globally, not just a show that would air well in America.
M7: How do you maintain a balance between working with JPA Productions and simultaneously playing a crucial role at Children of War Foundation?
JPA: I always knew I wanted to give back. I always wanted to share. When I heard about children's war from a friend of mine out here, because when COVID started I said, I really want to make an impact and do something big. Do you know of anyone? She was a newscaster out here in Los Angeles. She's a friend of mine. She said, well, there's this organization show of war and I donated money and I said, is there any way I can meet with the founders? I went to their house. I met with them when I heard about what they're doing for medical and education. My mother was 19 when I was taken from her they deemed me illegitimate. She was illiterate, cleaning houses. So literacy, women's education was essential to me. So I said, I will offer my production services. I will tell stories. So they said, okay and I soon after, I found myself on the Syrian border, I was in Jordan, I was in a refugee camp and I loved these kids. So really it was, it worked perfectly.
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The mothers were notified by law that their children were being taken, were being adopted. Most mothers, didn't show up.
M7: What is on top of the list for what JPA Productions wishes to achieve this year??
JPA: I spent a three-year developing the story of my mother at Cannes film festival, I met with a studio, and they said they want to work with me in possible development not just to be, I was going to do a short film. I was going to do a 15-minute film about my mother. It focused on the courtroom scene because what she did was she showed up in court to say goodbye to me. She couldn't do anything as she had no lawyer. The mothers were notified by law that their children were being taken, were being adopted. Most mothers, I found out, didn't show up. When I found out at night, the story of 18, when I was 18 years old, I found the story, the true story. It just changed my life. This young girl shows up in court to say goodbye to her son, to do the proper thing or something she didn't have to do. That, for me, changed everything. So then it became, you know, being friendly, being kind. Sometimes doesn't cost you anything, but be committed. So I think the top of my list would be if I could get this thing, whether it is going to be a short or whether it's going to be a feature, have that go. I don't know if we'll shoot it this year as it will be in Greece. It's going to take some time. But I want to do that. I want to finish the documentary at another place. I'm excited about that. We're developing a few shows out here. I can't talk about it, but they're in the same vein of what the whole thing I'm doing.
M7: Talk to us about the power of storytelling being utilized to spread awareness & bring aid to refugees internationally?
JPA: I made a great contact with someone from the producers Guild we met at the can. She's based out of the UN now, but had an office in New York and one in London. I just watched one of her films about human trafficking and such a power and a hard film. You don't sit down with your kids in popcorn, I mean, this is a rough film. It was very emotional, but it revealed what was going on. It brought truth to something. Until we bring awareness of the plight of these refugees, it doesn't matter the country, we have to find a way & water it down. This won't be good. So some of it is raw. But, I also believe in many people, a lot of my people, my age and business, are missing it. But I'm telling you social media is enormous and there are millions of views & these streamers. When I spoke at a round table at Cannes. I told them, we have to engage that platform, and we have to, it doesn't have to be a feature. It doesn't have to be a documentary. You know, it could be a bunch of short forms where kids can see it on their phones. The younger generation can see it on their phones.
M7: You are also famously known as an 'international producer'. How do you embrace this label with 30 years of experience?
JPA: That is an honor, first of all. Every time I tell when I go somewhere, they'll say, oh, this is James from America and I'm Greek, but I want to be known when I was at Cannes. I was like, this is its all international. Let's expand the family, right. There's so much more action we have in common than against. So if we tell stories, if we're with people and we look at it that way. When I started funding for the first year producers without borders, a friend of mine from the producers Guild, he said I want to do this cause we're both an international committee, I felt there wasn't enough happening globally. So, we started having these dinners worldwide to bring producers and creative together. So it is exciting as I'm going to keep doing it.
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Being friendly, being kind. Sometimes doesn't cost you anything, but be committed.
M7: What steps are you taking for in order to stick to your mission statement?
JPA: I want to set up a foundation, probably in Greece or maybe London, or perhaps have a little smaller. But something that would give access to education, especially to women refugees or people who are just displaced because the only way, my adopted mother always said, if you're going to tell someone they have bad breath, you better have a breath mint or don't critique them. Don't tell them that, if you can't fix the problem then don't say anything. I have seen problems. I've seen things where there, you know, there still is. There's just a huge disparity & I thought, okay, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I want to set, and I'd love to see a foundation probably in my mother's name because she was illiterate and wasn't given opportunities. So I would love to set up something forever a foundation where I know that there are young women and not just in Greece, everywhere that are getting opportunities in education. It's like how I have every reason and more reason to go back and make sure for these young, especially these young women that this never happens again.
M7: Currently what project are you working on? Would you be able to share some details with us?
JPA: I'm really, really excited about this documentary. I'm going to possibly be doing something with the UN. I may be doing a short with them. So I may next year have at least three projects in Berlin and Cannes film festivals, which will be exciting to actually bring; I always love to go, but to actually have something entered will be great. So to know we had some stuff done and entered would be very exciting for me. I have made connections to people in Ukraine ambulance drivers that I now know that we offer medical, you know, we're trying what medical need, what stuff because I'm prepared to go back. So people for the war, isn't over its horrific there. Hence these are things that are on the top of my list that, I'd like to achieve and, and do this year for sure.